By Dirisu Yakubu
Ahead of the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, national campaign council has tasked voters to reject “all phoney promises” by the All Progressives Congress, APC candidate and governor of the state, Rotimi Akeredolu and instead, pitch tent with Eyitayo Jegede, for a better life in the next four years.
Chairman of the campaign council and governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde while addressing party members and supporters in Akure, the Ondo state capital recently at the official flag-off of the campaigns told the electorate to embrace the reality of the times by supporting a party desirous of seeing Nigeria restructured in line with the yearnings of well-meaning citizens across the land.
The APC in its campaign of renewal of mandate for Akeredolu has insisted that a vote for the incumbent governor is a step in the right direction, noting that the possibility of a Presidency going the way of the South-West in 2023 means the state would profit more being in the mainstream than in the grip of an opposition party.
With a mammoth crowd on hand to receive his team in Akure, Makinde deflated the South-West Presidency rumour and urged Ondo people to think more of restructuring instead.
“They are saying you should vote for them because they want Presidency to come to Yoruba land. This election is not about Presidency to Yoruba land. This election is about delivering Eyitayo Jegede and putting Ondo state among the states that will lead the charge to restructure Nigeria.
“10-10-2020 is a special day and you will deliver special results. This election is about you choosing between continuous servitude and freedom. We want freedom for the entire South-West. It has started from Oyo state, it will continue in Ondo state on 10/10/2020. Will you rather stay with a candle when you have the sun? Ondo state is the sunshine state. They have been lighting candle for you, so it is time to let the sun shine again,” he said even as he reminded his listeners the importance of voting and protecting their votes.
“So, you will come out, cast your votes and stay with your votes. Your votes will not only count, it will be counted and it will liberate Ondo state,” he added.
By that singular outing, Governor Makinde took his host to a trip down memory lane when in yesteryears, Yoruba leaders including Ayo Opadokun, Wole Soyinka, Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Tinubu and others, singled out restructuring as a cardinal “must-do” to free Nigeria from her perpetual resource endowment tag to a nation ready to play and compete in the big league.
It’s a timely admonition that would have left the PDP and Eyitayo Jegede immensely proud.
At the beginning when eight seasoned politicians joined the race for the party’s sole ticket; political pundits feared the possibility of an implosion of the PDP before, during or after the primary election. For a race that had Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria; Eddy Olafeso, until recently national vice chairman (South-West) of the PDP; ex-federal lawmaker, Senator Boluwaji Kunlere; two-time commissioner, Barrister Sola Ebiseeni amongst others, Makinde in the weeks preceding the primaries brought all of them together in a meeting to chart the way forward.
In a clear demonstration of leadership astuteness, Makinde succeeded in prevailing on all and sundry to accept the outcome of the primaries, stressing that only one man was fated to emerge at the end of the exercise. While promising on his honour to make the exercise free, fair, transparent and open; the engineer-turned politician urged them to forge a common front and work against a sole foe in the APC.
Today, all hitherto aspirants save for Ajayi Agboola, the Ondo state deputy governor who upon losing the ticket to Jegede defected to the Zenith Labour Party, are combing the length and breadth of the state, wooing voters for Jegede and the PDP.
That political masterstroke has seen some analysts tipping Jegede for a chance to upstage the incumbent whose handling of the state’s social infrastructure is giving the PDP more than enough campaign ammunitions.
For a people famed for their love for education, schooling has become too big a challenge as Makinde says the past four years under the leadership of Governor Akeredolu, access to government-owned institutions have become difficult owing to increment in tuition fees as announced by incumbent governor on assumption of office. To reverse this trend, he called on voters to spare no effort in playing their part to institute a PDP-led administration at Alagbaka (The Ondo State Government House).
This has been re-echoed by Jegede who wasted no time in painting a picture of a semblance of his government if elected.
“Come 23rd of February, 2021, there will be a new face in Government House. The PDP flag will fly, economy will grow, there will be jobs for the youths, there will be industries, there will be agricultural development, and School fees will come down. There will be joy for the people.
“Today, we serve notice on the APC government and by the grace of God; they will pack and leave the Government House for us,” he told a mammoth crowd of supporters in the ancient city of Akure.
Beyond the quest for affordable school fees is the need to have a government that gives a sense of belonging to every part of the state. Makinde labelled the Akeredolu-led administration as a government of the privileged few which spares no thought for the people that brought it to office. Government, he insisted, must be the face of the people; a remark that sat well with Fatai Adam, chairman of the PDP Ondo state chapter.
Describing the APC-led government in the state as personalised and dictatorial, Adam stresses the importance of rallying round Jegede in these words:
“The emergence of Eyitayo Jegede will lead us to Alagbaka and that will terminate the dictatorial, uninspiring and personalized government in our dear state. We are going to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Eyitayo Jegede will bring relief to our people in Ondo state. The PDP government will usher in good governance in our dear state. Our children will be able to go to school.
“We will be able to access quality health services, and our road network will be good for us to move on. Industrial development will cut across the three senatorial districts. It is not going to be a government of one family but a government that will usher in good tidings to everybody’s home,” he said as the crowd cheered him on endlessly.
What the Makinde-led council is doing is nothing short of an issue-based campaign often clamoured by proponents of good governance across the country during electioneering times. Get an issue or two capable of swinging votes in your favour and convince the people to jump in your ship for a ride aimed at changing their lives for good. This is a subset of political ideology.
It is for this reason that the Democrats and Republicans, two dominant political parties in the United States and to an extent, the African National Congress, ANC, in South Africa have morphed from mere political parties to institutions in their own rights. It is hoped that in the near future, Nigeria will reach a notch where ideology or the lack of it, will determine the success or failure of a candidate and by extension, a political party during election.